Newport attorney suspected of stealing from women

A Newport Beach attorney faces charges of embezzling more than $700,000 from two sisters after offering to help them with their finances, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Peter David Nitschke, 45, was a family friend of the alleged victims and president of the women's church congregation. He offered to help them following the death of their 95-year-old mother in 2010, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

The mother left her daughters, ages 65 and 69, a house in Northern California and about $675,000 in various bank accounts, prosecutors said.

Nitschke requested that the two women write him cashier's checks in the amount that remained in their mother's bank accounts. Rather than deposit the money into their accounts, as required by the state bar, he deposited the money into his personal accounts, according to the D.A.'s office.

Earlier this year, family members asked for money from Nitschke to pay for a nursing home and medical expenses, prosecutors said.

Nitschke allegedly falsified a bank statement to reflect the client trust account had money, although it had a zero balance and had been closed.

The relatives grew suspicious and contacted police in May. The Irvine Police Department arrested Nitschke on Tuesday morning.

He faces two counts of theft from an elder with sentencing enhancements because the alleged theft was more than $100,000, and for an aggravated white-collar crime more than $500,000 and property loss more than $200,000. If convicted, he faces up to 12 years in state prison.

Nitschke is scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Ana on Wednesday.

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